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Winter snow & ice is particularly hard for the homeless


WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – With back-to-back winter storm systems bearing down on us, the cold and snow is a continuing reality.

Wheeling’s homeless population has a portion of their day when there is no option for shelter.

The YSS Winter Freeze Shelter is open all night but closes at 7 a.m.

The Catholic Charities Warming Center is open during the day, but it closes at 3 p.m.

So, from 3 to 8 p.m., there’s no place to go but outside.

Chrissy Butler, formerly homeless who now has an apartment, helps at both shelters. She knows someone who almost lost a toe.

His toe got so frozen because he only had one pair of socks and not the best shoes, and he was in the hospital for a few days.

Chrissy Butler, Formerly Homeless

Ice and snow-packed surfaces are hard to navigate.

You step the wrong way and you can seriously hurt yourself. I have seen people fall, get bruised, even break an arm.”

Chrissy Butler, Formerly Homeless

Those five hours when both shelters are closed are hard enough, but some homeless people don’t go to those shelters at all.

One, they’re embarrassed that they’re homeless and about the situation they’re in. Two, the other situation is, we have a lot of people out there with pets. And a lot of these places don’t allow pets.

Chrissy Butler, Formerly Homeless

And there are a few people who can’t behave themselves and they’re not permitted in the shelter because of their conduct, so they’re living in tents.

Robert Bickerstaff, Spends Time at Shelters

They say the aching hands, numb fingers and toes and burning skin is miserable.

I have found some wooden benches to sit on. The concrete and steel benches conduct the cold too much, but with the snow blowing and the wind blowing, you can’t get out of the elements.

Robert Bickerstaff, Spends Time at Shelters

They hope that someone might open another shelter during those gap hours.

They dread the day—just a month from now—when the Winter Freeze Shelter closes for the season.

I just can’t imagine being out in a tent on a day like last night, but there’s not a lot of options.

Robert Bickerstaff, Spends Time at Shelters

If anyone has an idea or proposal for those five gap hours when the other shelters are closed, they can put it in writing and send it to Street MOMs, 87 15th Street, Wheeling, WV 26003.

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